It’s been a while since the last writing but so much happened in the mean time. The important thing is that we are all OK, bike seems to be in good shape now and we are ready to go on. But in order to get to this story we need to go back a bit, back in Alaska, for the last time in this trip. It will be a long post so I hope it was worth the wait.
We left our story back in Haines, surrounded by mountains and fjords. To get back to Whitehorse one has two options. One is just track back around 140 miles on the same road we came in. Second is just take a ferry to Skagway just across the fjord and then ride the White Pass to Carcross and Whitehorse. Hmm of course we will go with number two.
One hour and 90 dollars later we arrive in Skagway. Very similar to Haines but then so different. And that’s because Skagway is visited by lots and lots of tourists. And with them, all the typical businesses for the tourists masses. Overpriced jewelery shops, clothes shops, souvenirs and so on. And everything is so crowded. And if you are wondering where are these tourists coming from. Well they get there with cruise ships. When we arrived there, there were four of them docked. Surprisingly for us, two of them were Scandinavian. Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Jewel. Hmm that’s so… inspirational.
It was funny that when I’ve asked someone in Haines how come they do not get so many tourists there she answered: “Well we don’t want them boat tourists here. They make a mess”. I do not know about that. But what I to believe is that seeing Alaska is worth it. Even if you do it only on a cruise ship. But if you just do that, and then just take some 5 stars buss around and go only from shop to shop in touristy places… then most probably you would miss a lot of Alaska. The real Alaska. yeah you can say you’ve been there but somehow…
We’ve spent around 3 weeks there and still we felt like we are rushing so much, and passing by places and people that we would really have liked to get to know much better.
We were not very sorry that we were rushing out of Skagway though. Especially since in front of us was the White Pass.
This pass was build for the same reasons as so many projects here: acute and urgent need. Back in 1890 when Klondike Gold Rush boomed, there was an accute need for a link between Skagway (and the marine way) and Whitehorse.
The road was hard and only the natives knew the way. The railroad has only 170 kilometers and has been built from scratch only in 24 months and is one of the most scenic narrow gauge tracks.
It’s now used only for tourism. We are heading our way winding around the railroad and enjoying the great views.
We are again grateful for being on this trip. It’s sunny outside, the motorcycle is in good condition, gas in the tank, blue sky, high mountains, windy road. We’re smiling. For a while we are not listening to the music, we are not taking pictures. We’re silent and we can only hear the engine and the tires taking each curve. We don’t know how long the road was but it seemed too short for us.
We are close to Whitehorse and it’s almost dark. As we enter the city we see a blue motorcycle heading out. It’s getting closer and it looks familiar. Hey, it’s Rodney! Hit the brakes! He saw us also and he is turning back. We are really happy to meet him again. Last time we saw each other was in Fairbanks and then exchanged emails. We knew he was going towards Vancouver, his trip finale, but we thought he was few days behind us. Now here he is, smiling us, in Whitehorse. Ha!
photo courtesy of Rodney
We part ways but we will meet again for sure.
I rode 500 kilometers back on Alaska Highway (did I tell you how much I hate going back on the same road?). I’ve been there before and the road was not that interesting so I just switched on the auto pilot. Andreea was sleeping in the back, I was listening to Spanish lessons and riding on not without paying attention to the wildlife.
Therefore we don’t have pictures of this part of the road. Actually, we have something:
It’s a tradition to leave your name in the…. ground. There are hundreds of inscriptions along the way. Some bring paint from home to make the message more visible. Here’s a Kawasaki fan.
The funny part is that it all started with a simple and innocent message “P-Time”. We don’t waste too much time here. We were impatient to get to Watson Lake and get on Cassiar Highway to British Columbia. We really wanted to get to new places so we just fuel up at Junction 37 and hit Cassiar Highway, although it was 6 pm. This road is considered one of the most isolated in British Columbia. We are heading South (to civilization) but we find ourselves thrown back into a deserted area, few cars around. But we like what we see.
We are again alone on the road to… somewhere.
To our left the shadows go East. But the sun is up so we should be fine.
As we were getting used to the depressing scenery, we see in the distance a weird cloud. But the sky is so clear.
Oh, wait, that’s not a cloud… it’s smoke. And you know the saying “There’s no smoke without fire”. And that’s not a small one. It’s only forest around so it’s not hard to figure out what’s burning.
And our road goes there.
We weren’t sure if we should worry or not. We heard about forest fires that spread really fast.We’ve seen the signs. And now we see this. And, as they say, this is not a drill. We count our options. We cannot go around, there is no side road. There is forest all around us. We can go back, of course. But where? We didn’t want to go back to Watson Lake. We were supposed to head South, not North. I’m thinking that if it is really serious we would meet cars, people, animals, running the opposite direction. We decide to keep going.
We see rock sheep on the side of the road and they seem relaxed. Let’s keep going.
We manage to avoid the fire. We stop in Dease lake in a camping not worth mentioning and the second day we get ready to enter Alaska for the last time on this trip, its Southern limit, in a small city called Hyder. The place is famous for being the closest to “mainland USA”. Ah, and for one more thing: bears.
Let’s see. First one…..
And there were some more but didn’t stop taking pictures.We are convinced there are bears around. We get to Hyder and we are told that it is not really safe to camp…. we are advised to take a motel room. We follow the advice and take the last free and not very expensive motel room, we appreciate having a safe place to sleep and we go to the view point. What view point? For the bears, of course. And so we meet the mighty grizzly.
Theoretically, we were safe on a wooden bridge. Practically, I think we were safe because there was lots of salmon around (and salmon tastes better than humans do, I think).
It was indeed a great experience to watch a free grizzly so close. Unbelievable! And we stop here for today, with a last picture of our hairy friend.
What an appropriate way of saying “goodbye” to wild, vast and free Alaska. We hope we will be back up there again. But for now it is time to move on. See you soon Alaska!
Next time we discover British Columbia and get to attend for the first time a motorcyclists meeting. Stay tuned! Written from Kev’s porch, after a day dedicated to the motorcycle.